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World Cricket League Division 4 Preview - The long road to Italy
By Venu Palaparthi
On paper, based on their ICC ODI rankings, the countries of the
ICC Division 4 are all at the same level. Cayman Islands - 25,
Argentina - 26, Italy - 27, Tanzania - 28, Nepal - 29, USA - 30.
Nothing could be further from the truth. How else can you explain that
USA, ranked 10th in 2007, is now ranked a lowly 30th?
They are ranked similarly because they are currently in the same
Division, their fortunes fluctuating with the vagaries of the
WCL system. Their ranks do not reflect their performances outside of
WCL. And some of them have never even played each other in the WCL.
Pic (Right): Lennox Cush in a WCL Division 5 match in Nepal.
It will be some more years before the World Cricket League
stabilizes and all the countries find their rightful place in the
pecking order. Meanwhile, here's an attempt by DreamCricket.com to
seed the teams taking part in Pepsi ICC WCL Division 4 in Italy based
on a review of their performances in the regional championships and the
1. NEPAL: Nepal and USA have been unlikely
companions in the World Cricket League. Having started out in the
same group as USA in Jersey in 2008 ICC WCL Division 5, Nepal did well
to win all their matches in the Group Stage (just like USA). While
USA was thrashed by the lowly Jersey in its semis in wholly avoidable
circumstances, Nepal was thrashed by the mighty Afghans. Having
failed to climb out of Division 5, Nepal (just like USA) was forced to
wait until 2010 for another chance. In the Division 5 tournament in
2010, both countries led the pack this time and finished first and
second overall earning a promotion to Division 4.
Nepal's superior ranking in DreamCricket.com's estimate is based on
results in the two Division 5 tournaments. In 2008, in the third place
playoff match in Jersey, Nepal gave USA a massive drubbing bowling USA
out for 93. USA returned the favor on February 26, 2010 in a match
that was cut short owing to crowd trouble - but not before USA reached
the revised target of 157 with 12 overs to spare.
However, in the final the very next day, Nepal, perhaps not inclined
to give the crowd another opportunity to express their discontent with
stones and assorted missiles, dismissed USA for 172 and went on to
reach that target with 5 wickets still in hand. Based on this 2-1
record against USA, Nepal are the top seeds in this tournament. Nepal
is also planning a tour of Sri Lanka ahead of the tournament in Italy,
a positive step that can only help them with their preparation.
2. USA: USA was shortchanged by its
administrators' inability to clean house between 2005 and 2008. After
being placed in Division 3 when the WCL system was conceived, thanks to
its 10th place finish at the 2005 ICC Trophy, USA was suspended for
non-cricketing reasons involving the said administrative machinery.
Upon readmission in 2008, USA was invited to join the league at the
bottom of the totempole - Division 5. Once there, USA found it
difficult to get out, finishing fourth in the 2008 ICC WCL Division 5
tournament in Jersey owing mainly to an uninspired performance against
the hosts in a crucial semi-final match.
Afghanistan, which was in a far worse position, managed to shake off
its past and proceeded to take the fast lane to ODI status. USA
resumed its upward journey in 2010 with a much improved performance in
Nepal finishing second - losing only to the hosts.
Ironically, when USA was suspended in 2005, Cayman Islands took
USA's spot in the ICC Intercontinental Cup 2005 and Argentina replaced
USA in the ICC WCL Division 3, joining Cayman Islands in that group.
USA has not lost a single match to Cayman Islands or Argentina in 5
editions of the ICC Americas Championships beginning 2000, and yet
finds itself playing these two countries to regain its place in
In Division 4, Nepal will be a hard nut to crack for USA - the
Nepalese are no pushovers against USA. The one thing going for USA is
that Nepalese cricketers are unaccustomed to the astro-turf
wickets in Italy. Natural turf is Nepal's preferred surface but USA
has no such luxury and regularly plays on astro-turf and assorted other
3. CAYMAN ISLANDS: When WCL was first conceived,
the twelve participants of the 2005 ICC Trophy were to be bucketed in
Divisions 1 thru 3 according to their ranking in that tournament. In
addition, Division 3 had room for a leader from each ICC development
region. Since USA, Canada and Bermuda had already booked their berths
via the ICC Trophy route, Cayman Islands which was ranked behind these
countries in the Americas region was the automatic next choice for
To its credit, Cayman Islands retained its Division 3 spot at the
end of the 2007 ICC WCL Division 3 tournament in Darwin (Australia)
after inflicting defeats on lower ranked Tanzania and Hong Kong. But
Caymans could not deliver a repeat performance in the 2009 ICC WCL
Division 3 tournament held in Buenos Aries, scoring just one win
(against the winless Argentina) and finished among the bottom two,
which sent it down one notch to Division 4. Although Cayman Islands
lost to Argentina in Bermuda last month, its overall record against
Argentina affords Cayman Islands a seeding ahead of Argentina.
4. ITALY: Italy, like Cayman Islands, earned a
spot in ICC WCL Division 3 in 2007 because it was the leader among the
ICC's European associates - Netherlands, Ireland, Denmark and Scotland
having already qualified via the ICC Trophy route.
However, its only wins in the 2007 tournament were against Argentina
(in a last-ball run out) and Fiji, and it was relegated to Division 4.
In ICC WCL Division 4 tournament in 2008 held in Tanzania, it won three
matches finishing ahead of Tanzania, Jersey and Fiji, thus retaining
its Division 4 position. Italy defeated Argentina in 2007 and
Tanzania twice in 2008. This should put them ahead of these two
countries in DreamCricket.com's rankings.
5. ARGENTINA: Argentina earned an improbable
wildcard entry in Division 3 after USA was suspended in 2007 for
non-cricketing reasons. This was possible because they were next in
line in Americas as winners of ICC Americas Division 2 championship.
To everybody's surprise, the Argenentians grabbed that opportunity
by the horns finishing second in Darwin in 2007. Argentina then moved
to ICC WCL Division 2 but then lost the plot completely as evidenced by
its downward slide post-Darwin. Argentina finished winless in 2007 ICC
WCL Division Two tournament in Namibia and was relegated back to
In the Division 3 tournament at home in 2009, Argentina once again
finished without a single victory - sending it further down to
ICC WCL Division 4. A 13-run victory over Caymans and an improbable
tie against the Bahamas in Bermuda will hopefully instill confidence in
Argentina. Argentina is proof that to truly defy gravity, you have to
both improve and win consistently once you get into the higher
divisions like the Afghans have done.
6. TANZANIA: Tanzania, as the leader among the
remaining African associates, was placed in Division 3 in 2007. Having
lost to all teams except Hong Kong in Division 3, it was relegated to
In the Division 4 tournament in 2008, Tanzania was soundly beaten by
all teams with the exception of Jersey, which somehow managed to lose
to Tanzania after having won against better teams in Division 5
previously. In a three way tie for relegation from Division 4,
Tanzania was saved by superior NRR and thus remained in Division 4.
Tanzania recently toured Kenya, and although they were beaten in nearly
all their matches, the experience should serve them well.